Public Policy and Advocacy

Grantmakers in the Arts holds public policy and advocacy as one of its core funding focus areas and believes one of the most important roles we can serve in benefitting our members and the arts grantmaking community – maximizing the impact our sector can have toward increasing access to the arts and realizing racial justice through the arts – comes by way of our public policy and advocacy work. In GIA’s vision for the future, foundations have shifted their foci to increasingly include advocacy and public sector policy and practice.

As part of realizing this vision, we provide programs to teach our members about advocacy and lobbying, the difference between the two, and how grantmakers can support both. GIA advocates for lifelong learning through the arts from early childhood through K-12 and into senior years. Knowing that the arts and arts education cannot be provided without artists, we necessarily advocate for economic justice for artists and other workers.

We are committed to invigorate funding and support for arts education within federal policy, and defend that every resident has access to the arts as part of well-rounded, life-long education. Over the past several years, raising the visibility of the arts in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in its legislative form. GIA and Penn Hill Group continue these advocacy efforts around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), guiding GIA members and their grantees in advocating for new or expanded arts programs at their local schools and districts. Organized since 2012, GIA’s Arts Education Funders Coalition (AEFC) has worked to address identified needs in comprehensive arts education and to strengthen communication and networking among arts education funders.

The AEFC includes members from Americans for the Arts, Arts Education Partnership, Center for Cultural Innovation, The George Gund Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Wallace Foundation, among others. Advised by a committee of Coalition members, GIA engaged the services of Washington, D.C.-based Penn Hill Group, a firm with education policy expertise and experience working with diverse education groups to research, develop, and promote educational policy strategies.

Most recently, GIA worked with Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) on the development of the Arts Education for All Act, the broadest arts education policy bill ever introduced in Congress. In Spring 2021, GIA influenced the U.S. Department of Education to highlight the importance of equitable access to arts and culture when determining how to reopen schools. Additionally, GIA emphasized the need to make explicit how this access was racialized prior to the pandemic. Addressing this inequity was essential to effective reopening and remains essential to the adequate provision of comprehensive, well-rounded education.

In addition to Arts Education focused policy work, GIA advocates and lobbies for lifelong learning. GIA is delighted that, in 2020, Congress passed the Supporting Older Americans Act including our recommendations that the Administration on Aging include the arts in the issues to be identified and addressed and be included among supportive services for older Americans.

Another way we are realizing this vision is through the inaugural 2022 GIA Cultural Policy Learning Series and Action Lab, which focuses on such issues as racial equity & transformational practice in the public sector, translating between sectors and planning toward action.

We continue to advocate and lobby for economic justice for workers, including artists. GIA has successfully lobbied to include arts-related provisions in the Child Care for Working Families Act, which proposes to better help low-income families pay for childcare and expand high-quality state preschool options. GIA advocated for AmeriCorps to make national volunteer service more accessible by offering an increase in living allowances. We have also called for arts grantmakers to advocate for portable benefits for workers.

GIA is eager to continue informing the field’s support for advocacy, to advocate for national policies that enhance lifelong access to the transformative power of arts and culture that create economic justice for artists and other workers.

October 2, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

United Philanthropy Forum and Grantmakers in the Arts encourage the philanthropic sector to support the Charitable Act, legislation that would implement a Universal Charitable Deduction (UCD).

July 12, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From United Philanthropy Forum: The newly released Giving USA 2023 report provides continued cause for concern about our nation’s ongoing decline in charitable giving from individuals and in the number of individual givers. These data lend more urgency for the need to pass the Charitable Act, which would incentivize millions more Americans to give and support their communities—not just the shrinking number of Americans who itemize their taxes. 

May 18, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) joined by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) today introduced legislation to test innovative portable benefits designs for the growing independent workforce. The Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act seeks to provide workers with access to insurance protections typically provided through traditional full-time employment. This legislation would establish a $20 million grant fund within the U.S.

April 17, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) was founded in 1982 by Executive Order to advise the President on cultural policy.

March 15, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

"Philanthropy comes in many forms. For over a decade, Black Philanthropy Month has been a time of reflection on Black philanthropists’ contributions—including the contributions of Black liberation movements," said Son Chau for Nonprofit Quarterly. "As an American-born, Vietnamese philanthropic professional, this annual convening in August prompts me to reflect not only on the financial and political contributions that Black communities up and down the socioeconomic ladder have made to a democratic society. It also encourages me to rethink the definition of philanthropy itself."

February 7, 2023 by Jaime Sharp

From Nonprofit Quarterly: The cultural sector is seeking alternatives to business-as-usual. This article is the second in the series, “Remember the Future: Culture and Systems Change,” co-produced by and NPQ. In this series, queer, trans, and BIPOC artists and cultural bearers reflect upon the unique role that culture has played and can play in activating and enacting structural change—and in building a solidarity economy.

December 19, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From The White House: "By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Policy. The arts, the humanities, and museum and library services are essential to the well-being, health, vitality, and democracy of our Nation. They are the soul of America, reflecting our multicultural and democratic experience. They further help us strive to be the more perfect Union to which generation after generation of Americans have aspired. They inspire us; provide livelihoods; sustain, anchor, and bring cohesion within diverse communities across our Nation; stimulate creativity and innovation; help us understand and communicate our values as a people; compel us to wrestle with our history and enable us to imagine our future; invigorate and strengthen our democracy; and point the way toward progress."

October 4, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"On the evening of Thursday, September 28, dozens of Brooklyn Museum union workers lined the institution’s grand entrance, chanting 'overworked and underpaid' and 'ancient art, not ancient wages.' Visitors to the museum’s Open House, an event celebrating the revamped Asian and Islamic art galleries, streamed in through different entrances in an attempt to circumvent the protestors," said Elaine Velie for Hyperallergic.

"Employees at the Brooklyn Museum officially unionized in August 2021 and began contract negotiations with museum leadership in January of this year. While the two parties have reached tentative agreements on some non-economic issues, they have yet to come to terms on healthcare and wages."

September 12, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From the White House Briefing Room: "At the national level, NEA Chair Jackson will participate in the United We Stand Summit, alongside National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Lowe, and will be partnering on a messaging initiative in future months. We extend an invitation for you to join us for this important, first-of-its-kind event, with information on how to watch the summit forthcoming. The arts and culture have an important role to play in this issue. As we all know, the arts help us develop the skills needed to find connection, common purpose, and recognition of our shared humanity. They are an integral part of America's civic infrastructure: the norms and agreements that we rely on to care for one another. In this time of division and polarization, strengthening this civic infrastructure through the arts is paramount."

June 24, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

As Philanthropy New York has been solidifying its commitment to centering racial equity, our programming and networks have evolved as well. One of YLBC’s intentions now reads, 'building a more networked philanthropic sector dedicated to equitable, inclusive, collaborative and innovative philanthropy,'" said Donita Volkwijn, Senior Director, Member Engagement, Philanthropy New York.

"Not everyone is as lucky to have the kind of boss that operated in the values stated above. Goodness, I haven’t always been that lucky and the unlucky moments have come about largely because of how I identify. At this point, most people (at least the ones reading this piece) recognize how racism can cut people off from opportunity. What is harder to recognize is how racism denies members of the BIPOC community the opportunity to learn and grow."